Breaking Through

If there is one thing Ole Miss Coach has remained steadfast about - through good times and bad - concerning Rebel QB Bo Wallace, it's that he is ultra-competitive. That showed up in spades against LSU with a gutty late march that led to the winning field goal.

So many cliches, so little space, but the most appropriate one concerning Ole Miss Quarterback Bo Wallace may well be, "It's not how you fall that matters, it's how you get up."

In the two games prior to the LSU encounter - a stunning 27-24 Rebel victory achieved in no small part by Wallace's direction of a late drive that ended in a game-winning field goal by Andrew Ritter - Bo and the Rebel offense had failed - such a strong word, 'failed' - to produce with late drives that would have won both those games.

While both could have been contributed to the whole offense, Wallace shouldered the blame and received a bulk of the criticism.

Make no mistake about it, they stung and, as folks are wont to say, "left a mark" on his psyche.

But the one thing Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze has always hung his hat on about Wallace has been his toughness and competitive nature.

How quickly we forget how Wallace played most of last year with a severely separated shoulder that required a major offseason operation that introduced a brand new surgical procedure.

How quickly we discount the months he could not throw much during his rehab and the time he missed working out with his wideouts when other QBs around the country were getting their timing down to an exact science.

Bo Wallace
USA TODAY images

How quickly do we put out of our minds how sore and weak Wallace's arm was during August training camp and even into the first couple of games of the year.

What have you done for me today?

So here was Bo Wallace, staring down the gun of LSU's defense and back-to-back aborted late-game missions by the offense.

Another chance to get it done and another chance to fall.

Wallace, and the offense, it is only fair to add, rose up. So much so that Wallace's performance garnered Freeze's comment, "I saw two little things the whole game he did incorrectly."

Before getting to the nuts and bolts of the final drive, let's look at the overall masterpiece Wallace put in.

30-39 (77%) passing for 346 yards and no interceptions. Outstanding numbers for any QB in any game.

It's the final drive, however, that Wallace will be remembered for. With 3:15 remaining in the game, it went like this:

Key play #1. From the Rebel 19, facing 3rd-and-6, Wallace dropped back but the receivers were covered. He tucked and ran, bulling through a defender the last yard or so, for the exact yardage the Rebs needed to move the chains.

"For what it meant at the time - that the drive would continue, that run was the biggest play of the game," stated Freeze.

In Wallace's mind, the race was on after that first down.

"Normally, when we move the chains once, we are rolling. It gives everyone confidence," he stated.

Key play #2: Facing 3rd-and-13 from the 22, Wallace threw a strike to Ja-Mes Logan, also looking for some redemption from the Texas A&M game, for 14 yards.

Key play #3: From the UM 41, Wallace again took off running, this time for 10 yards and a first down at the LSU 49.

Key play #4: Wallace hits I'tavius Mathers for 7 yards to the LSU 42.

Key play #5: With the option to throw or run, Wallace correctly reads a give to Mathers, who rushes for 12 yards to the LSU 30, in Ritter's range.

Bo Wallace
USA TODAY images

A textbook march that left the Rebs with a 41-yard field goal to win the game. Good, Rebs win.

"Bo and the offense executed that drive to perfection, in my book," Freeze noted. "We did exactly what we wanted to when we wanted to do it and it was all about execution."

After the game, Wallace deflected the credit, as usual, for the outcome.

"The offensive line stepped up big with the inside run and the way they have developed a nastier attitude, our receivers caught everything after a couple of games when they weren't themselves, and the backs ran hard," he said. "That's how you win."

It also helped that the triggerman was as hot as a July day in the Mississippi Delta.

"We really prepared hard for this game. We knew the defense was beat up and that we were going to have to score," Wallace noted. "I knew we could score on LSU with the plan we had if we just executed."

His focal point going into the contest was better production on third downs. The Rebs were a very good 11-18 on those opportunities on the night and two-for-two on the last drive when it counted the most.

"All week long, I kept telling myself this game would come down to third down plays and making them. We had a great third down plan and I had worked really hard all week in practice on third down situations," Wallace added.

Going out on the field for the last drive, Wallace - surprisingly - was thinking about the Rebel defense.

"We just couldn't leave it in their hands again. They had done so much to get us that far in the game, we had to finish it this time," he recalled. "It was up to us to get it done.

"I knew the defense would have a great plan and would fight, but all week long in Red Ball I kept seeing guys out there that I haven't seen since camp playing big roles. I knew we had to step up on our side of the ball."

The Rebs came out of the end of a schedule gauntlet, which Sagarain has ranked the hardest in the nation to this point, a respectable 4-3 and somewhat relieved.

"Nobody has played the kind of schedule we have," Wallace said, shaking his head. "There's still a lot of football to play against really good teams, but that was a killer stretch and we survived it."

With the proverbial "monkey" off the backs of the offense after finishing a big, big game on the right note, Wallace is looking forward to the upcoming games.

"We can't rest on this one game. It feels great, but we've got a lot more to do," he concluded. "I can't wait to get back out there and get under the lights again to see where this win will take us."

One thing is for sure. Bo Wallace will be standing upright after getting up, dusting himself off and guiding the Rebs to a statement win for this team and this program.

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